The role of a Segment Specialist is varied and requires engineering knowhow as well as in-depth knowledge of the ROCOL product range. It’s the role that Ian Fenney has held for the Metalworking Fluids division for the last three of his 15 years with ROCOL.
Having previously worked in the manufacturing world for over 20 years prior to joining the ROCOL family, Ian can draw on these years of experience when offering advice to the ROCOL end-users. From working in press shops to CNC machines shops, he brings more experience than the average MW sales person. In fact, he has never considered himself a sales person.
We look behind the scenes of Ian’s role in the business and hear how his love of problem solving is benefiting customers around the world.
My original role when I joined ROCOL in 2005 was Metalworking Sales Engineer covering Scotland. Over time, my role expanded to cover the North of England as well. From there, I moved into the UK Metalworking Sales Manager role, a position I held for nearly six years before taking on my current role.
I never really considered myself to be a salesperson and I struggle to understand what a salesperson really is. My role has always been to problem solve and give the best advice I can with my knowledge and experience. I hate phrases like upselling and I’m often guilty of the opposite – either downselling or giving free advice in other areas. For me, when you give good advice people tend to buy by default; I suppose it’s a trust thing. Conversely, I’ll recommend what the end-user actually requires and that may not be the cheapest product from a particular range.
I’ve always believed there isn’t a cheap or expensive option, only the correct option. Let’s face it, we have all bought something because it’s cheap only to put it in the bin, and we’ve all bought a sledge hammer to crack a nut at some point. My job is to try and make sure you do neither.
Like many of my colleagues who are segment specialists, my weeks tend to be planned well in advance. From my home on the west coast of Scotland, I cover the UK, Europe and the Middle East, so forward planning is essential. One of the things that makes my job so special is just how varied it is. One week I’m on the south coast of England, the next I’m in the Middle East.
When work takes me to places such as the UAE, which requires a lengthy flight, or to Greece, which is without a suitable direct flight from Scotland, I’ll try to travel on the Sunday. This allows me to hit the ground running on Monday and maximise my time with customers. The flight is always a great time to check emails and prepare any final pieces of information that may come in handy for the meetings that are coming up that week.
These trips can be a whirlwind. I meet with distributors as well as new and existing clients to talk through issues that they may be having and how ROCOL can help them, sharing information about new products and delivering training. Everything is geared towards helping people get the most out of the ROCOL products they’re using.
Between meetings, there tends to be a lot of driving. In some places, it can be a lot of hours driving between calls which clocks up a lot of miles! Once that day’s meetings are over, it’s back to the hotel and onto checking emails and preparing for the following day. I try to keep trips abroad to four days if possible. It’s fairer on my family, but it also means that I can structure visits to maximise the time that I get to spend with both the end users of our products and the service engineers.
I have nine UK-based Sales Engineers working with me. It’s always great to get out with them and go to meetings with potential and existing clients. Again, this part of the job is always varied, interesting and fun. It’s often all about solving problems that people may be having or delivering training to help them get the most out of their ROCOL products. In addition, I work with three UK-based MW service engineers and an internal technical team. This is the team that keeps our customers happy; they play a massive supporting role and one that allows us to stand out from the crowd.
Both the international and UK trips are important for gathering feedback on our products and refining our offering as a company. There are always things that we can learn, improve and develop further.
I try to get to the ROCOL head office in Leeds as regularly as possible, however it can sometimes be tricky to schedule in. I always make sure that I’m there for the quarterly business review meetings though. It’s great to see the rest of the team and catch up on everything that’s going on. It’s also an opportunity to sit down with the technical team and talk about new products, developments and challenges that customers are reporting. I’ll also catch up with Shaun, our Marketing Manager, to discuss marketing campaigns and any new literature that we’re working on.
For me, finding a solution to a customer’s problem is one of the highlights of my job. It’s also great working alongside such dedicated and talented people.